Castleford Tigers skipper Michael Shenton has not given up on playing for England despite missing out on World Cup selection.
Three times dream Team selected centre Shenton has nine caps for England, but won the last of them in 2014. However, he was included in the training squad last year and would be delighted to represent his country again if asked to do so – but admits he has no chance unless he plays well for the Tigers.
He told the Express: “Of course I was disappointed not to go to the World Cup, but once I was over the initial feeling I could sit back and get on with the season ahead.
“I was able to mentally refresh and got to sit back and watch the World Cup while on holiday. I have been able to make sure I’m in the best nick I can possibly be in to have a good year in 2018 with Cas.
“I would still like to play for England if given the chance. It’s one of the best things you can do to represent your country, one of the greatest honours.
“But I’ve always said you’ve got to do the job for your own team first and if international selection comes off the back of that, it comes. If not, I’ve got to play the best I can for Cas.”
Shenton agreed that several other Cas players could count themselves unlucky to miss out on the World Cup, but reckoned there could not be many complaints with England reaching the final and going close to beating Australia.
He said: “There were others from Cas unlucky, but you could only pick 24 players. There’s always going to be blokes who just miss out.
“Different coaches have different points of view on how they want to play and you have to respect that, they are the head coaches for a reason.
“You just have to get behind the boys that have been selected and they mainly did a great job.
“They were unfortunate not to win the whole thing and going into the competition you would have been pretty happy with that.”
On the season ahead, Shenton reckons his head coach Daryl Powell has recruited well to keep everyone on their toes and ensure another successful season for the Tigers.
He added: “It’s always tough to say if the squad’s stronger, you lose something somewhere, but you gain something elsewhere. I think they’re pretty evenly matched, we were pretty strong last year and we’re pretty strong this year.
“Daryl’s obviously strengthened certain areas of the squad and we’ve probably got a bit more depth.
“The boys are a bit more experienced and some of the boys have been given upgraded contracts that reflect how well they’ve been playing. It’s important that those who have been playing well and consistently and been an important part of the team are rewarded – and the club is doing a good job of retaining players. It shows a sign of strength with this team that people do want to come to us and do want to stay at the club.
“The new guys are fitting in well. We’ve got a couple who were here before and they were pretty anxious to get back as well so that’s always nice.
“We’ve got some guys who have come in and want to challenge themselves. You can see that they’re hungry, they’re working hard and want to play well. There’s plenty of guys with a point to prove as well so that’s going to be good for the club.
“There’s some bigger names we’ve signed. Joe Wardle is a very exciting player, very solid, tough and a great line runner so he’s definitely going to add to the team. Jamie Ellis has got a bit more experience under his belt now and with his quality he will thrive in this team, especially under our coaching staff.”